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Naturalist Programs

Community scientists use the iNaturalist app to document and share their naturalist observations with the scientific community and fellow citizen scientists.

Top view of two people looking into a tide pool

The Aquarium of the Pacific’s Naturalist Programs include a number of individual projects that share the goal of encouraging people to explore the world around them and document observations of living species using the free iNaturalist app. iNaturalist provides a map-based platform for people to share their biodiversity observations, explore observations made by other people, help to identify specific organisms, and connect with the person who made the observation. In short, iNaturalist is both a community science project made up of countless smaller projects (like the Aquarium’s) and an online social network of naturalists, community scientists, and biologists.

The Aquarium offers both structured and non-structured naturalist programs with varying levels of time commitment and physical activity. Our most structured programs are our bioblitzes. A “bioblitz” is defined as an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species within a defined area over a specific period of time. The goal of a bioblitz is to provide a “snapshot” of the biodiversity of that location at that point in time.

The Aquarium’s first bioblitz was held on June 5, 2016 at Pelican Cove. This bioblitz was part of Snapshot Cal Coast, which is an annual state-wide effort to document coastal biodiversity through a series of bioblitzes up and down the California Coast over a two-week period, focusing on intertidal zones in marine protected areas (MPAs). To better understand how the biodiversity of the Point Vicente State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) is changing over time, the Aquarium of the Pacific has partnered with USC Sea Grant, the Los Angeles MPA Collaborative, and other local organizations to survey Pelican Cove on an annual basis during Snapshot Cal Coast’s two-week bioblitz period. More information on our past Pelican Cove biobitzes is available online at:

The Aquarium, in partnership with USC Sea Grant and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, also hosts an annual Shoreline Aquatic Park bioblitz, which has been held during the lunch break of the Aquarium’s Citizen Science for Conservation in Southern California Symposium (CSCSC) each spring. Results from our past Shoreline Aquatic Park bioblitz are available online at: Shoreline Aquatic Park Cit Sci Symposium.

In addition to the above organized bioblitz efforts, the Aquarium also encourages people to use iNaturalist to document species observed during their day-to-day life. Let us know what species you’re seeing by adding them to our #AOPcitsci Observations iNaturalist project, or by sharing them on social media using the #AOPcitsci.

Additional Resources:

Hands holding phone and chart
Bioblitz Group Shot
BioBlitz Group Shot 2017

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